I was invited recently to give a speech by the Arab League and the British Council in Cairo where I spoke on measuring soft skills. (Videos of my short interviews in English and Arabic below) What was interesting is that you get to meet people from the other 22 Arab states, exchange information and share experiences about the role of English, employability and the importance of soft skills.
The thinking on soft skills and issues surrounding employability in the Arab states is very similar to the situation in the UK, echoing discussions about the importance of developing technical and vocational education.
What was quite a daunting experience was giving an interview to BBC Arabic. I travelled to the BBC offices in Cairo where I was primped and made up before having to speak live on a programme called Duyana in a section about unemployment in the Arab world.
Across the Indian Ocean, I found myself in Malaysia during Chinese New Year, with the Malaysian Ministry of Education, where they have a very specific way of celebrating this holiday.
We enjoyed a special New Year feast (some dishes pictured) where plates are in the middle of the table and each guest has very long sticks for everyone to stir the food together while saying a few words.
We were greeted by a huge floral display celebrating the incoming year of the goat- a goat about three feet tall made from bright purple and yellow flowers. (main picture)
Head of Research and International Development, Cambridge English Language Assessment
Hanan Khalifa BBC Arabic Interview - English / Hanan Khalifa BBC Arabic Interview - Arabic